Last season, Shane Henry was not one of Virginia Tech’s best five players or a part of the best lineup for the Hokies in terms of combining talent and size. However, Henry was the right fit as a quality rebounder, rim protector, and high-energy big man to be a regular starter for the Hokies and play the first few minutes of each half to help try to give Virginia Tech some momentum.
Despite not being that talented, Buzz Williams took advantage of his on-court work ethic and athleticism and used him to be a solid big man spark plug at the beginning of each half. Now with Henry gone, Williams may look to go that way again after Kerry Blackshear played fairly well coming off the bench to play 25 minutes.
More likely than not, Blackshear will be starting with Zach LeDay in the frontcourt next season but based in Henry’s role last season, Johnny Hamilton definitely has an open door to taking the Shane Henry role next season.
Hamilton struggled to get playing time after he was suspended but the Trinidad and Tobago native averaged 1.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in only 7.3 minutes per game last season. Hamilton proved that he is a solid rim protector and very good shot blocker with his 0.9 blocks in 7.3 minutes per game being quite impressive along with having more than 1 block in five games including three against Iowa State and two against Saint Joseph’s.
Hamilton definitely has some questions on him but he definitely profiles as a guy who has a similar skill set to Henry, quality rebounder and shot blocker that doesn’t have much scoring range outside of five feet from the basket. The good news for Hamilton is he doesn’t have to be someone to stretch the floor especially with the Hokies’ ability to attack the rim and therefore either create space on the outside or enough room to dish the ball across to an open big man for a dunk.
The question is can Hamilton step up and prove to Buzz Williams that while he may not be one of the top two big men on the team, he can bring plenty of energy that can make Williams want to start Hamilton in a Shane Henry-like role.
On paper, Hamilton seems to have the skill set to play a similar role to what Henry did last season but that doesn’t account for the high-level of energy that Henry brought to the floor.
For Johnny Hamilton, it will come down to whether he can bring more energy at the beginning of the game than just about anyone else on the team. If he can, Hamilton fits the profile of an energy guy that can start and get some early half rebounds and blocks but if not, Hamilton may struggle to get playing time over Khadim Sy.